When it comes to Middle Eastern cuisine, there’s one
particular fermented food you should not miss out on: labneh. Also called yogurt
cheese or strained yogurt, this is a spreadable type of cheese that is made by
draining out the whey from fresh yogurt.
However, because of its foreign origins, labneh is usually
elusive — chances are your only hopes of finding it and tasting its creamy
goodness is by dining in Middle Eastern restaurants or scouring ethnic food
stores. But did you know that you can make fresh labneh at home? All you need
is some homemade yogurt. Try this easy labneh recipe below.
2. Fold the cheesecloth into quarters and set it
inside the sieve.
3. Mix the yogurt with unrefined salt.
4. Pour the yogurt and salt mixture into the sieve lined
5. Tie the cheesecloth and set it in the strainer.
Make sure there’s enough space between the strainer and the bowl to ensure the
whey will never reach the sieve during the straining process.
6. After the yogurt has strained for about 24 hours,
gently remove the cheesecloth.
7. Roll the labneh into small walnut-sized balls
and gently place into a Mason jar with fresh dill and chives, then cover with
The Benefits of
Eating Fermented Foods
Regularly eating fermented foods is
among the top dietary strategies that any person can implement, and is in fact
one of the cornerstones of optimal health. I believe that most people would
benefit from adding more fermented foods to their meals, as addressing your gut
flora can positively impact most health conditions, whether chronic or acute.
Here are just some of the ways that consuming fermented
foods can boost your well-being:
Helps reduce risk of infection from pathogenic microorganisms
Improves digestive function, leading in reduced
constipation or diarrhea
Helps improve and reduce the risk for atopic dermatitis (eczema) and acne
May help manage weight (certain fermented foods like kimchi are
found to have anti-obesity effects in animals)
Helps improve inflammatory bowel conditions such as
ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s
disease, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and necrotizing enterocolitis
Reduces risk of urinary and female genital tract infections
May reduce the risk of brain diseases, including
Remember that different fermented foods contain varying
strains of bacteria, which is why you should add a wide arsenal of cultured
foods to your meals in order to optimize microbial diversity — and labneh is
one of the best types out there.
You’ll Never Run Out
of Uses for Labneh
Labneh, also pronounced labne, lebnah or labaneh, is loved
by many for its creamy and tangy flavor. It can be consumed as a dip or spread,
topped with a dash of za’atar spice or fresh herbs, plus a drizzle of olive
oil, or added to various recipes.
Labneh is also sometimes called Greek yogurt, although there
is a slight difference between the two. The former is usually more strained,
resulting in an ultra-thick, cream cheese-like consistency. What’s more, labneh
is more popular in savory applications, while Greek yogurt is usually mixed in
But this doesn’t mean you have to limit yourself when it
comes to using labneh in your meals. This cheese-like food is extremely
versatile, and can be enjoyed both cooked and raw.
Labneh works as a replacement for sour cream and cream
cheese, and can be added to pastries and baked goods. Try making a healthier
cheesecake using this delicious yogurt cheese. One boon of using labneh instead
of the usual yogurt is that it does not curdle at high temperatures, mainly
because of its high fat content.
One tip: the consistency of the end product depends on how
long you strain the yogurt. The longer it’s allowed to strain, the thicker the
labneh will be.
Reminder: Don’t Discard
Whey, the cloudy and yellowish liquid byproduct of making
labneh (and other types of cheese), seems like it doesn’t have a lot of uses,
but don’t throw it out — it actually packs a nutritional punch.
Whey is loaded with phosphorus, calcium and B vitamins such
as pantothenic acid, B12 and riboflavin. In fact, adding it to your recipes can
actually boost the vitamin, mineral and protein content of other foods.[iv]
Try these ideas on using the whey from labneh:[v], [vi],[vii]
1. Add it to your morning smoothies and shakes to
boost their nutrition content.
2. Use it as a substitute for buttermilk in baked
goods. You may need to use slightly less whey than the amount of buttermilk
the recipe requires. For example, if the recipe needs a cup of buttermilk,
use only 3/4 cup of whey.
whey instead of water when making lemonade, or try adding it to your tea.
4. Make lacto-fermented vegetables like
sauerkraut using whey — it can help with the fermentation process.
5. Use it to thin out homemade hummus or pesto
6. Cook your quinoa in whey for added flavor.
7. Add it to your soups and stews (Remember that
this will not work for all recipes, though).
8. Keep feta cheese fresh by submerging it in whey.
9. Use it to water your plants for extra
nourishment. Just remember to dilute the whey with water so it will not
“burn” your plants.
10. Add it to your pet’s food. Whey can also be
fed to farm animals.
If you don’t have any immediate need for the whey, don’t
worry — you can easily freeze it for future use. Simply pour it into ice cube
trays or small cups and place them in the freezer. When you’re ready to use,
just pop out the cubes and defrost.[viii]
Alzheimer’s disease, which is the most serious form of dementia, eventually leads to the inability to carry out even the most basic of bodily functions, such as swallowing or walking. It is ultimately fatal, as conventional treatment options are few and universally ineffective.
Like autism among children, Alzheimer’s among seniors has reached epidemic proportions, with no slowdown in sight. On the contrary, evidence suggests the trend is worsening. At present, Alzheimer’s affects an estimated 5.4 million Americans.1
Projections suggest the disease will affect 1 in 4 Americans within the next two decades, and by 2050, Alzheimer’s diagnoses are projected to triple.2,3 Shocking statistics published in the journal Neurology in 2014 revealed Alzheimer’s killed more than 503,000 American seniors in 2010, making it the third leading cause of death, right behind heart disease and cancer.4
Now, data published in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report reveals that between 1999 and 2014, the death rate from Alzheimer’s increased by 55 percent,5,6,7,8 — a rather radical increase in a mere 15 years.
The CDC report also noted the number of people dying from the disease at home, opposed to in a care facility, has increased from 14 to 25 percent. This means many Alzheimer’s caretakers are unpaid family members and friends — a task known to be taxing from both an emotional and financial perspective. While these statistics sound dire enough, the reality may be even worse than that.
Alzheimer’s Deaths Are Likely Severely Underreported
The CDC report used data collected from U.S. death certificates. However, the 2014 Neurology study revealed Alzheimer’s deaths are grossly underreported on death certificates. In 2010, death certificates showed there were less than 84,000 deaths from Alzheimer’s. Meanwhile, by ascertaining the cause of death based on evaluation of donated organs from the diseased, the actual death toll attributable to dementia came out to 503,400.
If such a trend of underreporting Alzheimer’s disease as a cause of death holds true, the increase in Alzheimer’s deaths over the past 15 years may in fact be far greater than 55 percent.
Indeed, the CDC claims Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death, while the results from the 2014 study ranked it third. According to the CDC, Alzheimer’s killed 93,541 Americans in 2014 — a far cry from the estimated annual death toll of 503,400, reported in the Neurology study. Whatever the case may be, what’s clear is that severe, lethal dementia is rapidly rising, and the medical establishment is no closer to solving the riddle of causation than they were 30 years ago.
What’s Causing Alzheimer’s Disease?
It’s often said that the underlying causes of Alzheimer’s disease are unknown, but there’s no shortage of theories. Based on the available science, here are several of the most prominent or likely culprits that can raise your risk of Alzheimer’s disease:
? Insulin resistance
Mounting research suggests Alzheimer’s disease is intricately connected to insulin resistance; even mild elevation of blood sugar is associated with an elevated risk for dementia.9Diabetes and heart disease10 are also known to elevate your risk, and both are rooted in insulin resistance. Neurologist David Perlmutter warns anything that promotes insulin resistance, like a processed food diet, will also raise your risk of Alzheimer’s.
Recent research has strengthened the link between insulin resistance and dementia even further, particularly among those with existing heart disease.11,12,13 Studies have also confirmed that the greater an individual’s insulin resistance, the less sugar they have in key parts of their brain, and these areas typically correspond to the areas affected by Alzheimer’s.14,15
? Vitamin D deficiency
The Scotland Dementia Research Centre also noted there’s a very clear link between vitamin D deficiency and dementia.16 Indeed, studies have shown vitamin D plays a critical role in brain health, immune function, gene expression and inflammation — all of which influence Alzheimer’s. A wide variety of brain tissue contains vitamin D receptors, and when they’re activated by vitamin D, it facilitates nerve growth in your brain.
Researchers also believe optimal vitamin D levels boost levels of important brain chemicals, and protect brain cells by increasing the effectiveness of glial cells in nursing damaged neurons back to health. Considering an estimated 95 percent of seniors are at risk of vitamin D deficiency or insufficiency, vitamin D may be a very important factor for successful prevention among the general population.
Research also shows people living in northern latitudes have higher rates of death from Alzheimer’s than those living in sunnier areas,17 suggesting a link between sun exposure, vitamin D and brain health. In a 2014 study,18 considered to be the most robust study of its kind at the time, those who were severely deficient in vitamin D had a 125 percent higher risk of developing some form of dementia compared to those with normal levels.
The findings also suggest there’s a threshold level of circulating vitamin D, below which your risk for dementia increases. This threshold was found to be right around 20 nanograms per milliliter (ng/ml) or 50 nanomoles per liter (nmol/L) for Europeans.
Higher levels are associated with better brain health in general, and based on a broader view of the available science, 20 ng/ml is still far too low. The bulk of the research suggests a healthy range is between 40 to 60 ng/ml.
? Lack of sun exposure
While vitamin D deficiency is directly attributable to lack of sensible sun exposure, vitamin D production is not the only way sun exposure can influence your dementia risk. Evidence suggests sunlight is a beneficial electromagnetic frequency (EMF) that is in fact essential and vital for your health in its own right.
About 40 percent of the rays in sunlight is infrared. The red and near-infrared frequencies interact with cytochrome c oxidase (CCO) — one of the proteins in the inner mitochondrial membrane and a member of the electron transport chain.
CCO is a chromophore, a molecule that attracts and absorbs light. In short, sunlight improves the generation of energy (ATP). The optimal wavelength for stimulating CCO lies in two regions, red at 630 to 660 nanometers (nm) and near-infrared at 810 to 850 nm.
I’ve recently interviewed two different experts on photobiomodulation, a term describing the use of near-infrared light as a treatment for Alzheimer’s. To learn more about this fascinating field, please see my interviews with Michael Hamblin, Ph.D., and Dr. Lew Lim. Both have published papers on using photobiomodulation to improve Alzheimer’s disease.
Photobiomodulation also improves oxygenation to your cells by releasing nitric oxide, and is a vasodilator that helps relax your blood vessels, lower your blood pressure and improve vascular health. Additionally, delivering red (660 nm) and near infrared light (830 nm) to the mitochondria promotes synthesizing of gene transcription factors that trigger cellular repair, and this is as true in the brain as anywhere else in your body.
? Prion infection
In addition to viruses, bacteria and fungi, an infectious protein called TDP-43, which behaves like infectious proteins known as prions — responsible for the brain destruction that occurs in Mad Cow and Chronic Wasting Diseases — has been linked to Alzheimer’s.
Research presented at the 2014 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference revealed Alzheimer’s patients with TDP-43 were 10 times more likely to have been cognitively impaired at death than those without.19 Due to its similarities with mad cow disease, investigators have raised the possibility that Alzheimer’s disease may be linked to eating meat from animals raised in concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs).
? Environmental Toxins
Experts at the Edinburgh University’s Alzheimer Scotland Dementia Research Centre have compiled a list of top environmental risk factors thought to be contributing to the epidemic, based on a systematic review of the scientific literature.20,21,22,23 As much as one-third of your dementia risk is thought to be linked to environmental factors such as air pollution, pesticide exposure and living close to power lines.
The risk factor with the most robust body of research behind it is air pollution. In fact, they couldn’t find a single study that didn’t show a link between exposure to air pollution and dementia. Particulate matter, nitric oxides, ozone and carbon monoxide have all been linked to an increased risk. Living close to power lines also has “limited yet robust” evidence suggesting it may influence your susceptibility to dementia.
? Non-native or artificial electromagnetic fields (EMF)
Non-native EMFs contribute to Alzheimer’s by poisoning your mitochondria, and this is not limited to living in close proximity to power lines. It also includes electromagnetic interference from the electric grid and microwave radiation from your cellphone, cellphone towers and Wi-Fi.
This is a very deep and important topic that I plan to greatly expand on later this year. Based on what I’ve found so far, I’m convinced enough now to never put my cellphone on my body unless it is in airplane mode, and will not hold my cellphone unless it is on a selfie stick.
? Inactivity / lack of exercise
Exercise has been shown to protect your brain from Alzheimer’s and other dementias, and also improves quality of life if you’ve already been diagnosed.24 In one study,25 patients diagnosed with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s who participated in a four-month-long supervised exercise program had significantly fewer neuropsychiatric symptoms associated with the disease (especially mental speed and attention) than the inactive control group.
Other studies26 have shown aerobic exercise helps reduce tau levels in the brain. (Brain lesions known as tau tangles form when the protein tau collapses into twisted strands that end up killing your brain cells.) Cognitive function and memory27 can also be improved through regular exercise, and this effect is in part related to the effect exercise has on neurogenesis and the regrowth of brain cells.
By targeting a gene pathway called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), exercise actually promotes brain cell growth and connectivity. In one yearlong study, seniors who exercised grew and expanded their brain’s memory center by as much as 2 percent per year, where typically that center shrinks with age.
Evidence also suggests exercise can trigger a change in the way the amyloid precursor protein is metabolized,28 thus slowing the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s. By increasing levels of the protein PGC-1alpha (which Alzheimer’s patients have less of), brain cells produce less of the toxic amyloid protein associated with Alzheimer’s.29
? Hypertension and heart disease
Arterial stiffness (atherosclerosis) is associated with a hallmark process of Alzheimer’s, namely the buildup of beta-amyloid plaque in your brain. The American Heart Association (AHA) warns there’s a strong association between hypertension and brain diseases such as vascular cognitive impairment (loss of brain function caused by impaired blood flow to your brain) and dementia.30
Moreover, in one clinical trial,31 test subjects who consumed high-fructose corn syrup developed higher risk factors for cardiovascular disease in two weeks, demonstrating just how influential your diet can be on your heart and brain health in the long term.
? Genetic predisposition
Several genes that predispose you to Alzheimer’s have also been identified.32 The most common gene associated with late onset Alzheimer’s is the apolipoprotein E (APOE) gene. The APOE e2 form is thought to reduce your risk while the APOE e4 form increases it.
That said, some people never develop the disease even though they’ve inherited the APOE e4 gene from both their mother and father (giving them a double set), so while genetics can affect your risk, it is NOT a direct or inevitable cause.
Your risk for early onset familial Alzheimer’s can also be ascertained through genetic testing.33 In this case, by looking for mutation in the genes for presenilin 1 and presenilin 2. People with one or more genetic predispositions are at particularly high risk of developing Alzheimer’s at a very young age. At just 31 years of age, Rebecca Doig is thought to be one of the youngest Alzheimer’s cases presently known.
Early Alzheimer’s Prevention Is Required to Stem the Tide of Dementia
There is no known cure and no effective conventional treatments for Alzheimer’s, making prevention an overarching priority. Regardless of your age, now is the time to really start looking at which of these possible causes might be influencing your risk. If you’re finding this information now and are in your 20s or 30s, consider yourself blessed with foresight.
You still have time to address most if not all of these possible factors. But don’t dawdle too long. Early onset of Alzheimer’s is also on the rise. Already, nearly 5 percent of Americans with the disease are younger than 65. The video above features the story of Amy Norton, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at the age of 43. As noted by the American Alzheimer’s Association:34
“Many people with early onset are in their 40s and 50s. They have families, careers or are even caregivers themselves when Alzheimer’s disease strikes. In the United States, it is estimated that approximately 200,000 people have early onset.”
The good news is that lifestyle choices such as diet, exercise and sleep can have a significant impact on your risk. As previously noted by Dr. Richard Lipton of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine — where they study healthy aging — lifestyle changes “look more promising than the drug studies so far” when it comes to addressing Alzheimer’s.35
Cyclical Ketogenic Diet Can Help Reduce Risk of Alzheimer’s
In recent years, I’ve become deeply interested in and familiar with the medical literature detailing the influence of mitochondrial function on health. It’s become quite clear to me — and to many other experts in the field — that mitochondrial dysfunction is at the heart of virtually all chronic disease, including heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s.
Mitochondria are tiny organelles found in most of your cells, responsible for production of energy in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Your mitochondria have a series of proteins in the electron transport chain, in which they pass electrons from the metabolic products of the food you eat to combine it with oxygen from the air you breathe and ultimately form water. This is called aerobic respiration.
The more mitochondria you have and the healthier they are, the more energy your body can generate and the lower your risk of chronic disease. Disturbingly, research suggests 50 percent of people under the age of 40 have early onset mitochondrial dysfunction. It’s no wonder then that diseases historically known to affect the very old are now affecting people in middle age or even younger. Dementia is certainly one of those.
The good news is there are many ways to optimize your mitochondrial function, and this is the focus of my new book, “Fat for Fuel,” which details my metabolic mitochondrial therapy (MMT) program in full — starting with what you eat every day. Mounting evidence suggests the ability to burn fat for fuel is a crucial component of good metabolic health and mitochondrial function, and to do that, you simply cannot subsist on a standard American diet of processed food.
You need a diet that powers your brain and body with healthy fats. When your body burns fat as its primary fuel, ketones are created, which burn efficiently, are a superior fuel for your brain, and generate fewer reactive oxygen species and less free radical damage. A ketone called beta-hydroxybutyrate is also a major epigenetic player, stimulating beneficial changes in DNA expression, thereby reducing inflammation and increasing detoxification and antioxidant production.
MMT Is Part of the Answer
As a general guideline, until you are able to burn fat as your primary fuel, it is best to restrict your intake of net carbs (total carbs minus fiber) to about 20 to 50 grams per day while also keeping protein low enough to allow you to make the shift to nutritional ketosis — the metabolic state associated with an increased production of ketones in your liver. This is the biological reflection of being able to burn fat for fuel.
Nutritional ketosis is defined as blood ketones that stay in the range of 0.5 to 8.0 millimoles per liter (mmol/L). I explain the ins and outs of implementing this kind of diet, and its many health benefits, in the book. In it, I also explain why cycling through stages of feast and famine, opposed to continuously remaining in nutritional ketosis, is so important.
By periodically pulsing higher carb intakes, your ketone levels will dramatically increase and your blood sugar will drop. The pulsing will also prevent the loss of muscle that can occur when you remain in nutritional ketosis for extended periods of time.
A fascinating paper that demonstrates the power of lifestyle modifications for the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s is that of Dr. Dale Bredesen, a UCLA researcher who, by leveraging 36 different healthy lifestyle parameters — several of which are included in my MMT program — was able to reverse Alzheimer’s in 9 out of 10 patients. This included the use of:
His work was published in the journal Aging in 2014. You can download the full-text case paper online, which details the full program.36 According to Bredesen, “The results … suggest that, at least early in the course, cognitive decline may be driven in large part by metabolic processes.”
Lifestyle Strategies That Reduce Your Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease
While genetics can raise your risk of Alzheimer’s, even genetic predisposition does not mean dementia is your inevitable fate. On the other hand, you may have no genetic predisposition for dementia and still lose your mind. It’s important to remember that your genetic expression is predicated on epigenetic factors such as your diet, exercise, sleep and environmental exposures. You can, to a great degree, influence your genetic fate, no matter what you start out with.
When it comes to preventing Alzheimer’s, enhancing your mitochondrial function, which I detail in my book, “Fat for Fuel,” is paramount. MMT, I believe, helps you build a solid base for health and general disease prevention. In addition to that, the following strategies (some of which are part of MMT) are particularly important for the prevention of Alzheimer’s:
? Address your diet: Eat real food, ideally organic, and avoid processed foods, especially refined carbohydrates and vegetable oils
Contrary to popular belief, the ideal fuel for your brain is not glucose but ketones. Ketones are what your body produces when it converts fatinto energy. Healthy fats to add to your diet include avocados, butter, organic pastured egg yolks, coconuts and coconut oil, grass fed meats, raw nuts and animal-based omega-3.
High intake of the omega-3 fats EPA and DHA help by preventing cell damage caused by Alzheimer’s disease, thereby slowing down its progression and lowering your risk of developing the disorder. Avoid all trans fats or hydrogenated fats. This includes margarine, vegetable oils and various butter-like spreads.
Keep your added sugar levels to a minimum and your total fructose below 25 grams per day, or as low as 15 grams per day if you already have insulin/leptin resistance or any related disorders.
Most will also benefit from a gluten-free diet, as gluten makes your gut more permeable, which allows proteins to get into your bloodstream where they sensitize your immune system and promote inflammation and autoimmunity, both of which play a role in the development of Alzheimer’s.
? Optimize your gut flora
To do this, avoid processed foods, antibiotics and antibacterial products, fluoridated and chlorinated water, and be sure to eat traditionally fermented and cultured foods, along with a high-quality probiotic if needed. Dr. Steven Gundry does an excellent job of expanding on this in his new book “The Plant Paradox.” I will be interviewing him later this year, but his innovative approach has great potential to help your health.
? Intermittently fast
Intermittent fasting is a powerful tool to jump-start your body into remembering how to burn fat and repair the insulin/leptin resistance that is a primary contributing factor for Alzheimer’s.
? If you enjoy black coffee, keep the habit
While I would not encourage you to drink coffee if you’re not already a coffee drinker, if you enjoy it, there’s good news. Caffeine triggers the release of BDNF that activates brain stem cells to convert into new neurons, thereby improving your brain health. High-quality coffee also has many beneficial polyphenols that can improve brain function.
In one study, people with mild cognitive impairment whose blood levels of caffeine were higher (due to coffee consumption) were less likely to progress to full-blown dementia compared to those who did not drink coffee.37 In another study, older women whose coffee consumption was above average had a lower risk of dementia.38
? Move regularly and consistently throughout the day
The following lecture by physical therapist Teresa Liu-Ambrose, Ph.D., details the impact of exercise on dementia prevention and treatment.
? Optimize your magnesium levels
Preliminary research strongly suggests a decrease in Alzheimer symptoms with increased levels of magnesium in the brain. Magnesium threonate appears particularly useful as it has the ability to cross your blood brain barrier.
? Get sensible sun exposure to optimize your vitamin D and reap other photobiomodulation benefits
Sufficient vitamin D is imperative for proper functioning of your immune system to combat inflammation associated with Alzheimer’s. If you are unable to get sufficient amounts of sun exposure, make sure to take daily supplemental vitamin D3 to make your blood level at least 40 to 60 ng/ml. This is typically about 8,000 units of vitamin D for most adults.
That said, please do remember that sun exposure is also important for reasons unrelated to vitamin D. The near-infrared light in sunlight actually helps boost cognition and reduces symptoms of Alzheimer’s via a process known as photobiomodulation.
? Avoid and eliminate mercury from your body
Dental amalgam fillings are one of the major sources of heavy metal toxicity; however, you should be healthy prior to having them removed. Once you have adjusted to following the diet described in my optimized nutrition plan, you can follow the mercury detox protocol and then find a biological dentist to have your amalgams removed.
There is some suggestion that certain mineral waters high in silicic acid may help your body eliminate aluminum. Later this year I will be interviewing Wendy Meyers, an expert on detoxification and minerals, about some simple strategies you can use to address this.
? Avoid flu vaccinations
Most flu vaccines contain both mercury and aluminum.
? Avoid statins and anticholinergic drugs
Drugs that block acetylcholine, a nervous system neurotransmitter, have been shown to increase your risk of dementia. These drugs include certain nighttime pain relievers, antihistamines, sleep aids, certain antidepressants, medications to control incontinence and certain narcotic pain relievers.
Statin drugs are particularly problematic because they suppress the synthesis of cholesterol, deplete your brain of coenzyme Q10, vitamin K2 and neurotransmitter precursors and prevent adequate delivery of essential fatty acids and fat-soluble antioxidants to your brain by inhibiting the production of the indispensable carrier biomolecule known as low-density lipoprotein.
? Limit your exposure to non-native electromagnetic fields (cellphones, Wi-Fi routers and modems)
The primary pathology behind cellphone damage is not related specifically to brain tumors, or even to cancer. The real danger lies in damage from the reactive nitrogen species peroxynitrites.39 Increased peroxynitrites from cellphone exposure will damage your mitochondria, and your brain is the most mitochondrial-dense organ in your body.
Increased peroxynitrite generation has also been associated with increased levels of systemic inflammation by triggering cytokine storms, autonomic hormonal dysfunction and mitochondrial dysfunction.
Peroxynitrite is an unstable structural ion produced in your body after nitric oxide is exposed to superoxide, and this complex chemical process begins with exposure to low-frequency microwave radiation from your cellphone, Wi-Fi and cellphone towers.40,41
? Get plenty of restorative sleep
Sleep is necessary for maintaining metabolic homeostasis in your brain. Wakefulness is associated with mitochondrial stress; without sufficient sleep, neuron degeneration sets in. While sleep problems are common in Alzheimer’s patients, poor sleep may also be contributing to the disease by driving the buildup of amyloid plaques in your brain.
While you sleep, your brain flushes out waste materials, and if you don’t sleep well, this natural detoxification and clean-out process will be severely hampered.
? Challenge your mind daily
Mental stimulation, especially learning something new, such as learning to play an instrument or a new language, is associated with a decreased risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s. Researchers suspect that mental challenge helps to build up your brain, making it less susceptible to the lesions associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
For the past six decades, saturated fats and cholesterol have been wrongly vilified as the central culprit of heart disease, stroke and peripheral vascular disease. However, research has demonstrated that it’s actually sugar, refined carbohydrates, trans fats and processed vegetable oils found in many processed foods that are the real enemy.
In the decades saturated fats were demonized, the food industry responded by replacing saturated fats with more shelf-stable trans fats and a new market of low-fat (high-sugar) foods was born.
Americans’ health has plummeted ever since, and millions have been prematurely killed by this mistake. Making matters worse, genetically engineered soy oil, which is a major source of trans fat, can oxidize inside your body, thereby causing damage to both your heart and your brain.
One of the first articles published exonerating saturated fats was in 1957 by Dr. Fred Kummerow,1 who has now spent eight decades absorbed in the science of lipids and heart disease. In 2013, Kummerow sued the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for not withdrawing trans fats from the market.2 It was Kummerow’s lifetime work that revealed the dangers of trans fat and oxidized cholesterol and the relationship to heart disease.
Not surprisingly, trans fat is also linked to dementia as the arterial changes that occur in the heart muscle also occur in the brain, triggering neurological damage. Recent research has once again demonstrated the dangers to health and a great financial burden that eating a diet with trans fat has placed on the American public.
The Rise and Fall of Trans Fats
In 1912, Paul Sabatier won a Nobel Prize in chemistry for discovering the hydrogenation method that led to the production of partially hydrogenated oils, or trans fat.3 Proctor and Gamble first introduced Crisco in 1911 to the public as an economical substitute for beef lard and butter.
Unfortunately, this cost billions of dollars in health care and hundreds of thousands of premature deaths over the past eight decades. During World War II butter was rationed to control supply while manufacturing plants were used to support the war, increasing the popularity of margarine containing trans fat. In 1957, the U.S. government encouraged people to limit their saturated fat intake, propelling the sales of margarine.4
The sale of partially hydrogenated oils snowballed in the 1980s when opponents of saturated fat campaigned against beef fat and tropical oils for frying and at fast food restaurants. Several studies in the early 1990s received media attention, demonstrating a link between an increased intake of trans fat and heart disease. By 1993 advocacy groups were calling for fast food chains to eliminate trans fat from cooking oil.5
At this time Americans were consuming 4 to 7 percent of calories from trans fat.6 In 2004 Denmark made it illegal for any food to contain more than 2 percent trans fat.7 Policies in other countries limiting trans fat proved effective according to the World Health Organization, which now calls for a total elimination of trans fat from global food supplies.8
In 2007, New York City became the first city to ban the use of partially hydrogenated oils in foods and spreads in restaurants. A five-year follow up demonstrated the average content of customer meals dropped in total calories from trans fat from 3 percent to 0.5 percent.9
What Are Trans Fats?
Partially hydrogenated oils can tolerate repeated heating without breaking down, can turn a liquid oil into a solid and is less expensive than animal fat — making the product attractive to food manufacturers.10 Baked goods and snack foods had a greater shelf life and manufacturers enjoyed higher profit margins. Trans fats are different from an unsaturated fat by just one hydrogen molecule on the opposite side of a carbon bond.11
This one positional change is responsible for the difference in characteristics of the fat, and the increased danger to your health. Most trans fat is produced in a manufacturing plant, although some does occur naturally in ruminant animals such as cows, sheep and goats. These trans fats occur when bacteria digest grass in the stomach of the animals. They may make up 2 percent to 5 percent of the fat in dairy products and 3 percent to 9 percent in beef and lamb.
However, while similar in molecular nature, several review studies demonstrate that this type of naturally-occurring trans fat is not dangerous to your health.12,13,14 These comprehensive reviews found that while manufactured trans fat demonstrated significant health risk, those from ruminant animals were much more limited.
A well-known ruminant trans fat is conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which is believed to be highly beneficial and is used as a supplement to improve glucose tolerance and lipid metabolism.15,16 CLA is found in high amounts in dairy products from grass fed cows and linked to a reduced risk of heart disease.
Residents Enjoy Better Health After New York Places Restrictions
When New York severely limited the amount of trans fat allowed to be served at restaurants, it offered a unique opportunity for researchers to study the effects on residents and compare rates of heart attack and stroke before and after the restriction.17
Three or more years after the restrictions were imposed on specific counties in New York City, researchers found a 6.2 percent reduction in heart attacks and stroke in those counties compared to areas of the city where the restrictions on trans fat were not imposed.
Considering trans fat has proliferated in the American diet since the late 1950s — some 60 years now — the unnecessary death toll attributable to trans fat likely numbers in the millions each year, nationwide. As noted by lead author Dr. Eric Brandt, clinical fellow in cardiovascular medicine at Yale School of Medicine:18
“It is a pretty substantial decline. Our study highlights the power of public policy to impact the cardiovascular health of a population. Trans fats are deleterious for cardiovascular health, and minimizing or eliminating them from the diet can substantially reduce rates of heart attack and stroke.”
Research in Denmark, the first country to act following research demonstrating the dangerous health effects from trans fat, had similar results, finding a reduction in cardiovascular disease in the population several years after trans fat was limited in food production.19 Other research concluded a mere 2 percent increase in calories from trans fat can double your risk of heart attack,20 which means even minute amounts of trans fat may have a significant effect on your health.
Trans Fat Linked to Neurological Damage, Heart Disease and Diabetes
In fact, just small amounts of manufactured trans fat may have dangerous effects on your heart, insulin sensitivity and neurological system. In a unique study, Dr. Gene Bowman, assistant professor of neurology at Oregon Health and Science University, found a strong correlation between trans fat and cognitive performance.21 People with high levels of trans fat in their blood performed significantly worse in cognitive testing and had reduced brain volume. Bowman commented on these results:22
“It’s clear that trans fats are bad — both for your heart and now, we see, for your brain. So I would recommend that people stay away from all trans fats. If you aren’t sure whether something has them, just look at the ingredients … if there’s vegetable shortening, partially hydrogenated anything … just put it down. That’s the big message here.”
Trans fat also damages your heart muscle and arterial system, and is associated with coronary heart disease and sudden death from cardiac causes.23 In both observational and clinical studies, researchers have found associations between trans fat and cardiovascular disease.24 A large study of over 80,000 women has demonstrated a 40 percent increased risk of diabetes when the participants ate a diet that was high in trans fats from processed foods, baked goods and junk foods.25
Other studies are not as consistent, either with triggering diabetes or with insulin sensitivity. However, while the research on trans fat and glucose modulation is inconclusive, there is an association between eating foods with trans fat and weight gain, a significant risk factor for diabetes and heart disease.
In one animal study, researchers demonstrated an increase in abdominal obesity26 and another an increase in weight, even when caloric intake was the same between the group eating a diet rich in trans fat and those eating a diet without trans fat.27
What About Vegetable Oil?
In response to research and public opinion, many restaurants have turned from partially hydrogenated oils to 100 percent vegetable oil. However, while these oils do not have trans fats, when heated they may degrade to even more dangerous toxic oxidation products, including cyclic aldehydes. Many of the vegetable oils produced today — peanut, corn and soy — are products of genetic engineering and are a significant source of glyphosate exposure. This is yet another reason for eliminating these oils from your diet.
Vegetable oils cannot be pressed from corn, soy or peanuts, but instead must be chemically extracted, deodorized and altered before they are considered safe for eating. This type of oil is found in most processed foods, from salad dressing and mayonnaise to conventionally prepared nuts and seeds.28
While fats are essential for your body to produce hormones and rebuild cells, it is vital your body is able to use the fat you consume. The problem with vegetable oils is they are unstable, oxidize easily in the body or during production, and trigger cell mutation and inflammation. Vegetable oil is also high in omega-6 fats, creating an imbalance in your omega-3 to omega-6 ratio, which can trigger or contribute to cardiovascular problems, diabetes, arthritis, cognitive decline and specific cancers.29
Decode Your Food Labels
It is fairly easy to eat well over 1 gram of trans fat each day, as you’ll see in this short video. FDA labeling rules allow manufacturers to list the amount of trans fat as zero percent if there is less than 0.5 grams per serving in the product.30 While you may think that sounds reasonable, manufacturers are able to navigate this rule by changing portion sizes.
By reducing the portion size, they reduce the amount of trans fat found in each serving, thus fulfilling FDA rules for the “zero trans fat” label. In fact, they may even advertise the product does not have trans fat on the front label.31 So, make it a habit to read the label on any processed foods you purchase. If the serving size is ridiculously small, this is a tipoff you may be getting trans fat after all.
Partially hydrogenated oils are the primary source of trans fat in processed food and are indicated as partially hydrogenated oil on the ingredient list. These oils can be partially hydrogenated palm, cottonseed, soybean, vegetable and canola oils. Unfortunately, they hide in many processed foods you may have at home.32
Flaky crusts on your pie are often made with vegetable shortening loaded with partially hydrogenated oil. Artificial creamers, frozen dairy desserts and cake icing are just a couple of places where partially hydrogenated oils hide, providing the “creaminess” in thoroughly processed foods.